Experienced coaches don’t stay unemployed for long on the WTA Tour.
As word leaked out in the Daily Mail that Great Britain’s Johanna Konta and her coach of one year, Michael Joyce, had gone their separate ways, tennis.life learned from an extremely reliable source that the 45-year-old American already is on a coaching trial with another player.
And that player is … Canada’s Genie Bouchard.
We’re told that that Joyce has been in Tel Aviv, Israel, where Bouchard went for some treatment on her foot, for the last week or so.
And that they’re headed to Luxembourg to test it out in the WTA Tour stop there next week.
Bouchard remains some 15 spots out of the main draw in Luxembourg. So qualifying looks like the route unless the tournament awards her a wild card into the main draw.
The duo is expected there on Wednesday.
Coaching carousel in 2018
Bouchard’s coaching situation in 2018 has been intermittent and inconsistent, which makes it even more difficult when a player is trying to regain lost form and confidence.
She began the season with veteran American coach Harold Solomon in her camp. But Solomon severed ties just before Bouchard played the qualifying at the Miami Open in March.
In fact, for her first-round qualifying match against American Allie Kiick, Solomon was sitting in the opponent’s camp.
After Charleston in April, the 24-year-old Canadian flew to California and had a training period with legendary American coach Robert Lansdorp.
But Lansdorp, 79, isn’t up to full-time travel. He did go to Europe for the grass season, but that was the bulk of it.
Sinner in the summer
Bouchard then called upon Martin Sinner, the German who had worked with her as a junior, during the short clay-court swing after Wimbledon.
In the meantime, the toll it has taken on Bouchard’s stroke technique – notably the serve – has been fairly evident through a tough stretch of defeats.
Three of those losses – in Vancouver, Hiroshima and Tashkent – came at the hands of 23-year-old Nao Hibino, currently ranked No. 125.
Luxembourg is the final week of the WTA season. So the opportunity to test things out with Joyce is limited.
Bouchard could play one or both of the WTA 125K tournaments in Limoges, France in early November, and in Houston the week after that, if she wants more match play going into the off-season.
Bouchard is currently ranked No. 110, dropping two spots while idle last week.
One consideration, with the announcement that the Australian Open will increase the women’s singles qualifying from 96 to 128 players, is that there will be 16 qualifiers in the main draw.
Previously, there were 12 from a 96-player draw. So that means four fewer players will gain direct entry at the deadline. For players in the No. 100 – No. 110 range, that’s not a minor thing.
Longtime former Sharapova coach
Joyce worked with Jessica Pegula and Victoria Azarenka before the season with Konta.
But prior to that, he was the longtime coach of Maria Sharapova.
In that sense, he’s always been on the Bouchard family radar. Pegula and Bouchard also have played doubles together.
That might be past tense, though, as Bouchard no longer acknowledges Sharapova as her childhood idol.
So there’s a certain irony to the timing of this.
As usual in the WTA off-season there is plenty of musical chairs on the coaching side. So Joyce may well find himself very much in demand as players try to get their teams together in preparation for the 2018 offseason, and the 2019 season.